Mumbai: Accused arrested under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act have to be produced before the special court constituted under this Act even at the remand stage, the Bombay High Court has ruled.
"It must be appreciated that only the court which can take cognisance of the offence can perform the functions even at the pre-cognisance stage as there can not be more than one court exercising jurisdiction in respect of a single criminal prosecution," Justice Roshan Dalvi has said.
The High Court was hearing a petition moved by a woman who had filed a case against a person under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. The petitioner had before a magistrate court taken exception to the remand proceeding on the ground that only the special court would have jurisdiction to take remand and pass any order.
The magistrate had rejected the application saying the act of remand was a pre-cognisance stage.
Justice Dalvi, however, accepted the petitioner`s argument and said, "A magistrate not having territorial jurisdiction in a case cannot take cognisance of the case. He would, therefore, not remand an accused person produced before him."
The High Court also observed that the magistrate would be duty-bound to direct police officers to produce the person arrested under the Act before the relevant special court.
"It is imperative for all police officers to produce the accused for remand before the Children Court and not before the court of the magistrate. It is further imperative for all magistrates to guide police officers who erroneously produce the accused for remand before them to the children court. The very production of the accused before the magistrate is seen to have been faulty," Justice Dalvi said.
The Registrar (Judicial) of the High Court has been
directed to bring the order to the notice of all magistrates and all Children Courts across the state.
Justice Dalvi has, however, clarified that any remand orders passed in magistrate courts under the Act until now shall not be declared invalid in view of the applicability of the Criminal Procedure Code.
"All further proceedings shall be continued before the relevant Special court under the Children Act henceforth," the judge said.